On Hold Again

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

YOU MIGHT think that Sen. Mary M. Landrieu (D-La.) would be too busy with her own state's problems to meddle in the District's affairs. Or that as a Democrat who holds herself out as a friend to the city, she would respect home rule. Or that as someone who cares about education, she wouldn't hold up a bill affecting 55,000 schoolchildren. If so, you'd be wrong, wrong and wrong.

It turns out that Ms. Landrieu is the previously anonymous senator delaying legislation that would give D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) control of the District's troubled schools. The measure sped through the House but has languished in the Senate. First, it was victim of an attempted extortion by another supposed friend, Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), who placed a hold on the bill because he was upset with the city's plans for a youth detention facility in Anne Arundel County. When he relented, an unknown senator with unspecified concerns was reported to be reviewing it. Information was so hard to come by that late Friday night, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) plaintively pleaded with the unknown senator to come forward: "The Congresswoman believes that the Senator or staff reviewing the bill may be unaware of the urgency . . . "

Ms. Landrieu confirmed to us yesterday that last Tuesday, she told the Senate clerk she wanted to review the bill because of concerns over how the state and local education functions were set up. Ms. Landrieu professes to support the District and its overhaul. She said she was acting on concerns brought to her by School Board President Robert C. Bobb, who has opposed the takeover. It's curious that she kept city officials in the dark. If she had questions, why not get in touch with Mr. Fenty? In any event, why is it Ms. Landrieu's business how Washington chooses to govern its public schools? Her interference may result in school repairs going undone and positions going unfilled -- or, as Ms. Norton put it, children being caught in the middle.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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